Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
In the realm of annoying airlines, Alaska doesn’t generally win, place or even show.
It’s often voted the best U.S. airline.
Which may not be saying that much, but certainly shows a spirited attempt at customer service.
It was something of surprise, then, when the airline announced it was shrinking passengers’ carry-on allowance from June 4.
You’ll have to downsize from a maximum of 24″x17″x10″ to a mere 22″x14″x9″.
I can’t be sure that this is the equivalent of going from James Comey’s hand-size down to Donald Trump’s.
But a swift twirl around my calculator tells me this is a reduction of 32.1 percent.
Why would Alaska do this?
Well, on its website it explains:
Our current carry-on bag size is larger than most other international and domestic airlines allow. We’re changing our bag size allowance to make sure that your carry-on bag will be accepted aboard all the flights within your itinerary. This will help you avoid carry-on bag size conflicts and make connections with other airlines easier during your future trips.
Some might translate this as: “It’s not our fault. It’s all those other nickel-and-diming airlines that everyone hates, hates, hates. But what can you do?”
It would surely be a slightly curious announcement if Alaska left it at that. “The bullies made me do it” does smack of a certain weediness, even if the new dimensions do correspond to those of United, American, Delta and the like.
So the airline tried to gild its lily-white reputation by adding: “Best of all, we’ll be able to fit more carry-on bags into the overhead bins.”
Many will have sympathy with that sentiment.
Too many passengers stagger onto planes with more bags than CEOs have beneath their eyes.
And those bags can be vast.
Many a time, I’ve watched as some self-righteous backpacker or haughty business type tries to move other’s people’s carry-ons aside in order to shovel their own monstrosity into the overhead bin.
They know their carry-on is too big, but they’re not going to pay the $25 baggage fee.
Which generally annoys passengers and Flight Attendants equally.
Other airlines have tried to handle this dilemma differently.
United, for example, now effectively charges at least $9 for early access to those bins.
It’s clear, though, that airlines are becoming more stringent about these things, perhaps, dare one suggest, also in the hope they can make a little more money from baggage fees.
Of course, it’s down to check-in and gate agents — and Flight Attendants — to inspect the precise dimensions of every bag.
Which they’re unlikely to do.
The pressure on them is to get the plane out on time, so it’s unclear how much this new rule will change behavior.
I imagine the decent humans will try and adjust. Which will leave the same arrogant excessivists to change their behavior not one whit.
You have to adore humanity, don’t you?